By Bev Fearis, published 26/08/20
Air passengers are being told to wear facemasks on board flights or risk being fined, offloaded, or banned from flying in the future.
The warning from IATA came after recent reports of travellers refusing to wear face coverings.
“While this is confined to a very small number of individuals, some on-board incidents have become violent, resulting in costly and extremely inconvenient diversions to offload these passengers,” said the airline body.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, added. “This is a call for common sense and taking responsibility. The vast majority of travellers understand the importance of face covering both for themselves as well as for their fellow passengers, and airlines appreciate this collective effort.
“But a small minority create problems. Safety is at the core of aviation, and compliance with crew safety instructions is the law. Failure to comply can jeopardise a flight’s safety, disrupt the travel experience of other passengers and impact the work environment for crew.”
IATA said plane tickets are contracts under which the passenger agrees to an airline’s terms and Conditions of Carriage, which might include a requirement to wear a mask.
According to tests at the University of Edinburgh, face coverings, when properly worn, can cut the forward spread of potential Covid-19 droplets from the mouth by 90%.
“The research we have seen to date, and our own investigations with the world’s airlines, tell us that the risk of catching Covid-19 on a flight remains very low, said IATA’s Medical Advisor, Dr David Powell.
“There appears to be a number of factors supporting that. The high flow rate of cabin air from top to bottom, constant filtering of air through state-of-the-art HEPA filters, the fact that all seats face the same direction and of course wearing a face covering and sanitisation of the aircraft all play a part.
“This is not just about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting everyone else on the flight.”